December 30, 2008
Ned Vizzini | FAQ
FAQ - Last Updated 2/1/08
    General Questions
  1. Can I have information about you for a report?
  2. Can you come and visit my school/organization?
  3. Can you sign my book?
  4. How can I be a writer? (skill)
  5. How can I be a writer? (business)
  6. Can you help me get published?
  7. What is your address?
  8. Isn't it hard to write about your family and friends? Do they get offended?
  9. Are you writing a new book?
  10. Who are your favorite authors?
  11. What is your favorite book of the ones you've written?

  12. It's Kind of A Funny Story Questions
  13. How much of IKOAFS is true?
  14. Are they making an IKOAFS movie?
  15. Did it really take you like a month to write?
  16. Are the characters real?
  17. How does Craig get better so quickly in IKOAFS?
  18. In what year did the events that IKOAFS is based on take place?

  19. Be More Chill Questions
  20. Is there going to be a Be More Chill movie?
  21. Where did you get the idea for the squip?
  22. At the end of Be More Chill, do Christine and Jeremy hook up?
  23. Is the squip real?
  24. Is there going to be a Be More Chill sequel?
  25. How much of Be More Chill is based on your real life?

  26. Teen Angst? Naaah... Questions
  27. How much of Teen Angst is real?
  28. Can I have a Wormwhole demo?
  29. Did you ever meet the girl who kicked your backpack down the stairs?
  30. Are you still with Judith?
  31. Teen Angst? Naaah... comes in two editions -- a black one and a yellow one. What is the difference between the two editions?
  32. Did you do the pictures in Teen Angst?
  33. Regarding the footnote about Rude Boys: did you ever figure that out?

1. Can I have information on you for a report?

My bio is on the front page. For more, you're encouraged to go to the press section or Wikipedia. There is a lot of information about the book plots and character summaries on Wikipedia.

Also, I am engaged and I live in Brooklyn with my fiancee.


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2. Can you come and visit my school/organization?

Yes, of course! If you are interested in a workshop or presentation/lecture, please contact my speaking agency:


"Your Source for Lectures with Impact"

call 800-743-9182; more info here


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3. Can you sign/autograph my book?

Please note, if you sent me a book to sign between March and August 2008, there is a good chance it has been returned to you because of PO box problems I had. If that's the case, please resend to the new address as per below and I will slip $10 cash in your book as remuneration.

Yes I can sign your book. PLEASE FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY:


  1. Take the book.

  2. Put it in a blank envelope. DO NOT SEAL THIS ENVELOPE.

  3. Write your address on the envelope as if you were sending the book to yourself. For the return address, write:
    Ned Vizzini
    285 5th Ave. PMB #405
    Brooklyn, NY 11215

  4. Weigh this envelope and put on it as many stamps as it needs to travel to New York State. (Use this site.) (If you don't know the weight, use 1 lb 6 oz, that will cover any of my books.) (If you're from outside the US, email me.) DO NOT SEAL THE ENVELOPE.

  5. Take the book out of the envelope.

  6. Fold that envelope up and put it and the book in ANOTHER envelope. This envelope should be addressed to me, with your return address.

    Ned Vizzini
    PO Box 459
    New York, NY 10276



  7. Put the same number of stamps, plus one on this envelope.

  8. Send it!



This is called sending a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE).


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4. How can I be a writer? (skill)

I have put up many answers to this question, but none of them are as good as the advice in these two books:


  1. George Orwell, "Why I Write" essay

  2. Stephen King, On Writing


Buy these books and you will be a better writer.


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5. How can I be a writer? (business)

Here comes some ridiculously lengthy advice.


  1. Don't try to write a book.
    Many people want to start writing by writing a book. Not a good idea. Especially if you're young, you're not going to have the discipline to follow through on a complete work of fiction, which has to be on your mind all the time for months. Start small.

  2. Figure out your market.
    Who are you trying to write for? Are you trying to write stories about gardening to help people garden better? Or stories about vampires for people who need an introduction to vampires? It doesn't matter, so long as you know.

  3. Know the potential of your market.
    Once you know the kind of writing you want to do, check it out below:
    • Poetry
      There's not really a market for poetry outside of academia. Poetry books sell very little and poems appear in magazines rarely. If you want to be a poet, you have to stay in school indefinitely, writing your poetry while teaching poetry classes at a university. It's not a bad life by any means. Just know that's what you're getting into. You have to LOVE books. Unless... you want to risk it and try to be a kick-ass non-academic dangerous rock-star poet like Poe or Bukowski. In that case you shouldn't even be reading this; you should be out causing trouble.

    • Funny Little Stories
      Times have changed. If you're reading this, then maybe you know that this is how I got started: by sending my funny stories to a local newspaper. Unfortunately, that doesn't work any more. Now, if you want to write funny, observant, witty, biting stories about your life, you have to put them on a blog--no one will pay for them. Therefore you have to be a blogger and figure out how to make money off of the ads. People do it. No reason you can't. Here is the breakdown: stevepavlina.com.

    • Magazine Stuff
      Here, I don't just mean journalism. I mean everything from investigative war coverage to the captions under the items in Maxim. They all appear in magazines, and magazines are still alive. If you want to write for them, check it out: at the front of every newspaper and magazine (sometimes on page 2 or 3) is something called a masthead.

      The masthead lists the names and occupations of all the writers and editors who work for the paper. At the bottom of the masthead is an address called the "slush mail" address. You will probably see it in tiny letters down there and really have to struggle to read it. This is the address that unknown writers can send their work to.

      You know what? It's not like trying to be a model or a rock star. You don't have to sleep with anybody.

      Newspapers/magazines need to run copy every month/week/day so they eventually read the slush mail because hey, if there's talent in there, they want to use it for copy. Send your articles and essays again and again and again.

      Be specialized. Whatever you enjoy reading, you should send your writing to. If you like cars, send to Road and Track. If you've got a crazy story about homeless people or music, look for a local alternative paper in your city (like New York Press, it'll come out every week and have listings for all the concerts/parties going on); you will, at least, get a response and get an idea how good your stuff is.

    • Novels
      Now, if you want to tackle the big fish and write books, first, like we said, start small. Start with stories, personal essays, a seriously updated blog that you treat like a job. Once you've gotten yourself to the point where you think you have the discipline to write a novel, you have two choices:

      1. Go and get a degree in creative writing after college.

      2. Get a job and experience "real life" and try to write based on that.


      The purpose of #1 is to, after you're done with school, have an agent. And a book. Then the agent can try and sell your book. However, an MFA costs--you know what, by the time I write it, the cost will have gone up, so I'll just say it's "market price." Even if you get an agent and sell a book, you might be in the red. (However, you can teach creative writing courses and workshops, which brings in some money.)

      With #2, you're going to have to do it yourself. You won't be taken seriously by any of the #1 people until you get something published. Get a copy of THIS BOOK:

      Writer's Market 2008



      It's like the yellow pages for writers. It'll list every agent and publisher you can imagine. This year's edition even has a section for greeting cards--someone has to write those too.

      So if you're with option #2, you need to finish your book (FINISH it, don't write 2/3) and then look in Writer's Market for an agent who will be interested in it (say, the guy who specializes in mermaid romance tales). Send him the manuscript, properly formatted, with a nice cover letter, and do that over and over and over again until you hear something back.

      People who go through #1 should have an easier time of this--their years in graduate school should have given them the connections to get an agent. (By the way, an agent is optional for independent publishers but necessary for major publishers.)

      Ultimately, what's better, #1 or #2? I say #2, but that's just me.



  4. Wait! There's more!


  5. Make a database of everyone you know in publishing and watch it grow.
    You probably know someone, somehow, who is connected with the writing world. So start a database or a spreadsheet and put in their information: name, position, when you last talked to them, what happened the last time you talked to them... Ask them if they know anyone else in the writing world--editors, freelance journalists, people who put out small poetry chapbooks--and get their asses into the chart.

    At all stages of the game, be honest. Don't pretend that you're not trying to get a leg up on things when you talk to a person who can help you. Tell them: "I wrote this article that I really want to get published, can you help me?" And just keep watching that chart grow.



  6. Finally, if you're in high school, check out the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers. These are the folks who do the Scholastic Writing Awards. They are dedicated to and serious about helping young writers.

    WRITE IT program (<-- go here first)

    application for the Scholastic Writing Awards 2008

    rules for the application process



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6. Can you help me get published?

Sorry, no. Not any more than with the business and artistic advice.

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7. What is your address?

Ned Vizzini
PO Box 459
NY, NY 10276


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8. Isn't it hard to write about your family and friends? Do they get offended?

They can be, absolutely. The best way to deal with this is to write fiction and BASE your characters on real people instead of straight-up STEALING from them.

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9. Are you writing more books?

Yes, right now I am working on a new book. It's not YA, but if you liked my other books, you will like it.

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10. Who are your favorite authors?

My favorite authors change month to month, but when I was young and just starting out, my favorites were George Orwell, Michael Crichton, and Stephen King. Later I was exposed to the people who were writing for the New York Press in the late 1990s (Jonathan Ames, Amy Sohn, George Tabb), plus Jerry Stahl's Permanent Midnight.

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11. What is your favorite book of the ones you've written?

My favorite book of mine is It's Kind of A Funny Story. It's my most recent one, and I'd like to think that I get better each time. Also, it's the most personal, and I think it has the best lines.

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12. How much of It's Kind of a Funny Story is true?

85%. What I did:


  1. change the names of the characters

  2. change the age of Craig, who is 15 when he goes into the hospital (I was 23)

  3. add the love triangle



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13. Are they making an It's Kind of a Funny Story movie?

Paramount has optioned IKOAFS for a feature film. The script is being developed by Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden, who wrote and directed the 2006 film Half Nelson. No financing or release date yet.

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14. Did IKOAFS really take you like a month to write?

Yes.

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15. Are the characters in the hospital real?

Yes, they were based on real people. In some cases I changed races around, or combined two people into one character.

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16. How does Craig get better so quickly?

This is everyone's chief criticism of It's Kind of A Funny Story; they feel that the ending is too tidy.

My argument is that Craig didn't get "better" as in "better--his depression is cured." He got better as in "better--I'm not going to consider suicide again." He sorted out some things in his life like I did.


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17. In what year did the events that IKOAFS is based on take place?

Late 2004.

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18. Is there going to be a Be More Chill movie?

Be More Chill is currently in development with Depth of Field productions, who are bringing Nick & Nora's Infinite Playlist to the screen in 2008.

I have co-written a BMC script that we're working with.

No financing or release date yet.


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19. Where did you get the idea for the squip?

I saw so many products being advertised around me that promised to make you cool. So I thought, "What if there were just the ultimate? What if there were a pill?"

Also, there is a band called Drunk Horse that has a song called "AM/FM Shoes" about a guy who feels like a loser, except when he puts his special AM/FM shoes on. That helped give me the idea too.


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20. At the end of Be More Chill, do Christine and Jeremy hook up?

It's an open ending. Try and figure it out for yourself.

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21. Is the squip real?

No. You might be thinking of the "Squip? Google It" campaign.


When BMC came out, we ran a fairly insane publicity campaign where we invented a whole universe of websites that made it seem as if the squip were real.

The websites, which included squippersagainstsquips.com and iwanttobecool.com, were coupled with "Squip? Google It" stickers that we gave away. Readers put these stickers up and took pictures of them.

The squip campaign ran into some problems:


  1. people criticized us for exploiting kids, because in many cases the people signing up for squips on websites thought they were real

  2. managing the "Squip? Google It" t-shirts and stickers and the large amount of email proved very difficult

  3. we didn't really understand the government COPPA laws when we launched, and so we misstepped, missing the chance to get thousands of people on board with the campaign because we couldn't legally ask for their email addresses

  4. I got very depressed (this was the summer before I went into the hospital)



For those reasons, and maybe more, the squip campaign never quite "tipped" into the phenomenon we hoped it would be and closed in 2005.

However, it had some positive results:


  • we were featured in this New York Times article


  • we compiled this great video of the campaign highlights, with many of the early adopters and loyal squippers

  • on the message boards, a community grew up around the Squip Campaign and they still talk;the highest-posting members are given the status "Squip Sherrif":





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22. Is there going to be a Be More Chill sequel?

No.

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23. How much of Be More Chill is based on your real life?

65%. The infected nipple-ring incident happened to me.

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24. How much of Teen Angst is real?

95%. I just changed some names, dates.

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25. Can I have a Wormwhole demo?

No need to ask. Both Wormwhole songs are available for download:

 

26. Did you ever meet the girl who kicked your backpack down the stairs? Did she read the book?

Nope.

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27. Are you still with Judith from Teen Angst? Naaah...?

No.

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28. Teen Angst? Naaah... comes in two editions -- a black one and a yellow one. What is the difference between the two editions?

Black one (guy with a box on his head)

  • published by Random House

  • mass-market paperback

  • published in 2002

  • footnotes are on the bottom of each page



Yellow one

  • original version

  • published by Free Spirit Publishing

  • published in 2000

  • trade paperback

  • larger

  • footnotes on the sides of the pages

  • no longer in print



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29. Did you do the pictures in Teen Angst?

No, the cartoons were done by talented artist named Christopher Schons.

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30. Regarding the footnote about Rude Boys: did you ever figure that out?

During the 1970s 2 Tone ska revival in England, the terms rude boy and rude girl were often used to describe fans of that genre.

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Thank you!
© Ned Vizzini 2000-2008
SPEAKING INFORMATION
Coping with and Overcoming Adolescent Depression: The Real Story
In Person
with the award-winning author of Its Kind of a Funny Story and Be More Chill

Ned speaking
Ned is represented by CreativeWell and is available to speak and conduct writing workshops. For booking information contact George Greenfield at 800/743-9182.

Learn more at CreativeWell.

Ned has spoken at:
Yale, Florida Mental Health Community Centers, NYU Tisch, National Association for Gifted Children, National Council of Teachers of English, The Dalton School, Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library, Chicago Public Library, Michigan Library Association, and many others!